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Should You Be Tempted To Sell Bank First Corporation (NASDAQ:BFC) Because Of Its P/E Ratio?

Simply Wall St

The goal of this article is to teach you how to use price to earnings ratios (P/E ratios). We'll look at Bank First Corporation's (NASDAQ:BFC) P/E ratio and reflect on what it tells us about the company's share price. Looking at earnings over the last twelve months, Bank First has a P/E ratio of 17.69. That means that at current prices, buyers pay $17.69 for every $1 in trailing yearly profits.

Check out our latest analysis for Bank First

How Do I Calculate A Price To Earnings Ratio?

The formula for P/E is:

Price to Earnings Ratio = Share Price ÷ Earnings per Share (EPS)

Or for Bank First:

P/E of 17.69 = USD66.70 ÷ USD3.77 (Based on the year to September 2019.)

Is A High Price-to-Earnings Ratio Good?

A higher P/E ratio implies that investors pay a higher price for the earning power of the business. All else being equal, it's better to pay a low price -- but as Warren Buffett said, 'It's far better to buy a wonderful company at a fair price than a fair company at a wonderful price'.

How Does Bank First's P/E Ratio Compare To Its Peers?

The P/E ratio essentially measures market expectations of a company. As you can see below, Bank First has a higher P/E than the average company (12.8) in the banks industry.

NasdaqCM:BFC Price Estimation Relative to Market, January 20th 2020

Bank First's P/E tells us that market participants think the company will perform better than its industry peers, going forward. Clearly the market expects growth, but it isn't guaranteed. So further research is always essential. I often monitor director buying and selling.

How Growth Rates Impact P/E Ratios

Earnings growth rates have a big influence on P/E ratios. That's because companies that grow earnings per share quickly will rapidly increase the 'E' in the equation. That means unless the share price increases, the P/E will reduce in a few years. Then, a lower P/E should attract more buyers, pushing the share price up.

Bank First increased earnings per share by an impressive 11% over the last twelve months. And its annual EPS growth rate over 5 years is 14%. With that performance, you might expect an above average P/E ratio.

Remember: P/E Ratios Don't Consider The Balance Sheet

Don't forget that the P/E ratio considers market capitalization. So it won't reflect the advantage of cash, or disadvantage of debt. The exact same company would hypothetically deserve a higher P/E ratio if it had a strong balance sheet, than if it had a weak one with lots of debt, because a cashed up company can spend on growth.

Such spending might be good or bad, overall, but the key point here is that you need to look at debt to understand the P/E ratio in context.

Is Debt Impacting Bank First's P/E?

Since Bank First holds net cash of US$38m, it can spend on growth, justifying a higher P/E ratio than otherwise.

The Bottom Line On Bank First's P/E Ratio

Bank First trades on a P/E ratio of 17.7, which is fairly close to the US market average of 19.0. With a strong balance sheet combined with recent growth, the P/E implies the market is quite pessimistic. Since analysts are predicting growth will continue, one might expect to see a higher P/E so it may be worth looking closer.

When the market is wrong about a stock, it gives savvy investors an opportunity. If it is underestimating a company, investors can make money by buying and holding the shares until the market corrects itself. So this free report on the analyst consensus forecasts could help you make a master move on this stock.

You might be able to find a better buy than Bank First. If you want a selection of possible winners, check out this free list of interesting companies that trade on a P/E below 20 (but have proven they can grow earnings).

If you spot an error that warrants correction, please contact the editor at editorial-team@simplywallst.com. This article by Simply Wall St is general in nature. It does not constitute a recommendation to buy or sell any stock, and does not take account of your objectives, or your financial situation. Simply Wall St has no position in the stocks mentioned.

We aim to bring you long-term focused research analysis driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis may not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements or qualitative material. Thank you for reading.